NBC: The Surfer’s Sashimi- How Hawaiian Poke Conquered the Mainland

NBC (by Sarah Bennett):

The lunchtime line at Pokéworks in Midtown Manhattan has been constant since it opened three months ago. Every weekday, New Yorkers wearing puffy coats and woolen hats spill out of the tiny storefront, waiting for the chance to order a customized bowl of chopped raw fish atop a mound of sticky rice.

Poke, the Hawaiian invention ubiquitous on the islands, where it serves as the unofficial state snack, might seem like an odd meal to pair with a frigid East Coast winter. But over the last few years, the traditional dish — which tops fresh, lightly marinated seafood with condiments like limu and roasted kukui nuts — has transformed from pre-batched versions available by the pound at Hawaii’s beach-side liquor and grocery stores into the United States’ next build-your-own, meal-in-a-bowl movement.

Enjoying something Hawaiian in New York helps transport the mind a bit, to a place more beachfront,” Pokéworks partner Kevin Hsu told NBC News. “The moment you sit in your office and you’re digging through a poke bowl, you feel like you’re on vacation.

Nostalgia for Hawaiian vacations may be one reason why the hunger for poke has grown so great in such a short amount of time, but poke has been quietly mounting a mainstream takeover ever since its invention.

To ancient Hawaiians, cutting up the catch of the day and tossing it with salt and seaweed harvested from the ocean was an exercise in sustenance. Subsequent waves of contact and immigration — from Captain Cook to the sugar plantation era — influenced poke by infusing it with sauces, toppings, and flavors of Europe, Japan, and other Asian countries.

The dish was first introduced to many Americans via fine-dining chefs, who — following the Hawaiian-food-obsessed lead of Hawaii native son Sam Choy in the ’90s — found poke an approachable Asian-fusion appetizer, an alternative to crudo and ceviche. Sushi had already been introduced to American palates by then and many diners felt comfortable (and classy) eating Asian-style raw fish. Poke was a logical next step.

But it wasn’t until a few years ago that fast-casual spots dedicated to serving authentic Hawaiian-style poke first opened on the mainland. In Southern California, where many of these early businesses opened, bringing flavors from the Pacific to the masses was less about launching a trend and more of a natural outgrowth of the region’s historic population of Hawaiians and native Islanders.

Aside from a few dissenters, Hawaiians seem excited that the “surfer’s sashimi” is spreading to new audiences across the country, even if it’s at the hands of a non-traditional delivery method. As a cuisine that has itself evolved over centuries of shifting cultural influence, Hawaiian food seems ever-ripe for re-interpretations, which is good because the poke revolution shows no signs of slowing down.

Award-winning filmmaker Grace Lee’s food documentary “Off the Menu: Asian America” now streaming on PBS.org

 

Angry Asian Man:

The feature documentary Off the Menu: Asian America, produced by CAAM and KQED, is a road trip to the kitchens, factories, temples and farms of Asian Pacific America that explores how our relationship to food reflects our evolving communities. From Texas to New York and from Wisconsin to Hawaii, award-winning filmmaker Grace Lee takes audiences on a journey using our obsession with food as a launching point to delve into a wealth of stories, traditions, and unexpected characters that help nourish this nation of immigrants.

This is not your typical food travelogue. If you missed the public television broadcast of Off the Menu: Asian America, the film is currently available for streaming in its entirety on PBS.org until January 5.

14-year-old Native Hawaiian Auliíi Cravalho voices Disney’s newest princess, MOANA.

Meet the Next Disney Princess – and Get a First Look at Her Movie, Moana!| Walt Disney Company, Walt Disney Pictures, Movie News, Dwayne ''The Rock'' Johnson

People Magazine:

Like many little girls, Auli’i Cravalho of Oahu wanted to be a Disney princess.

From baby time to now, I wanted to be a Disney princess and then I wanted to be a singer or an actress,” the 14-year-old recalls.

But when Disney Animation began searching for a girl to voice the lead in its next princess movie Moana– about a young teen from 2,000 years ago who sets sail to fulfill her ancestors’ quest – Cravalho didn’t think she was good enough to audition.

Meet the Next Disney Princess – and Get a First Look at Her Movie, Moana!| Walt Disney Company, Walt Disney Pictures, Movie News, Dwayne ''The Rock'' Johnson

Native Hawaiian Auli’i Cravalho, 14, voices Disney’s newest princess

I was getting through my freshman year, and there were already so many great submissions over YouTube,” the 14-year-old Native Hawaiian tells PEOPLE, which features an exclusive first look at the movie in this week’s issue.

Good thing a fairy godmother (a.k.a. an Oahu casting agent) was looking out for Cravalho. After the agent discovered the teen’s singing talents during a charity competition, Cravalho was whisked off to Los Angeles, where directors Ron Clements and John Musker (The Little Mermaid, Aladdin cast her opposite Dwayne Johnson in the animated film, set for release on Nov. 23, 2016.

Meet the Next Disney Princess – and Get a First Look at Her Movie, Moana!| Walt Disney Company, Walt Disney Pictures, Movie News, Dwayne ''The Rock'' Johnson

Meet the Next Disney Princess – and Get a First Look at Her Movie, Moana!| Walt Disney Company, Walt Disney Pictures, Movie News, Dwayne ''The Rock'' Johnson

Moana is such an amazing character,” says Cravalho, who lives in the town of Mililani with her mother, Puanani. “She’s brave, she is so empowered, she knows what she wants and she’s not afraid to get it, and I think that’s something that I can relate to as well. I just love watching how she goes along in this wonderful movie and grows as a person and helps her culture along the way.

Cravalho is especially excited to work alongside Johnson, who will play a demigod named Maui whom Moana encounters during her travels.

Up to 70 retired buses in Hawaii will be converted into homeless shelters

city-bus-shelter-homeless-group-70-hawaii-8

Bored Panda:

Old city buses in Hawaii are going to be converted into homeless shelters if architecture firm Group 70 International is successful. The vehicles are to operate in fleets, with different units dedicated to different purposes, from living spaces to recreation rooms.

May Ry Kim of Group 70 International told Hawaii News that the design “is based on the premise that you could walk in to a hardware store, buy everything you need in one go and build everything with no trade skills,” so that it can be built by a team of untrained volunteers.

LIFT, the volunteer organization helping to execute the project hopes to build two buses by the end of this summer. 70 buses and all the material required for renovations will be donated.

‘Aloha’ director apologizes for casting Emma Stone as Asian-American

CNN:

Writer-director Cameron Crowe is having a tough week. His critically savaged movie, “Aloha,” performed poorly in its first weekend in theaters, collecting just $10.5 million despite a shiny pedigree and a star-studded cast. And now he’s apologizing for what critics are calling the culturally insensitive casting of actress Emma Stone as a part-Asian character.

“Thank you so much for all the impassioned comments regarding the casting of the wonderful Emma Stone in the part of Allison Ng,” Crowe wrote in a post on his personal blog. “I have heard your words and your disappointment, and I offer you a heart-felt apology to all who felt this was an odd or misguided casting choice.”

The Allison Ng character in the film is a young Air Force pilot in Hawaii with a father who is half Chinese. Ng is proud to be one-quarter Hawaiian, a fact she repeats to almost everyone she encounters.

But Stone, who grew up in Arizona, apparently has no Chinese or Pacific Islander ancestry. Native Hawaiians, Asian activists and bloggers have criticized the movie — set entirely in Hawaii — for its overwhelmingly white cast, with many singling out Stone’s casting as being especially egregious.

It’s so typical for Asian or Pacific Islanders to be rendered invisible in stories that we’re supposed to be in, in places that we live,” said Guy Aoki of the Media Action Network for Asian-Americans in an interview with the Huffington Post. “We’re 60% of the population (in Hawaii). We’d like them to reflect reality.”

Crowe, whose films include “Jerry Maguire” and “Almost Famous,” said the casting of Stone was not meant to be disrespectful.

As far back as 2007, Captain Allison Ng was written to be a super-proud ¼ Hawaiian who was frustrated that, by all outward appearances, she looked nothing like one. A half-Chinese father was meant to show the surprising mix of cultures often prevalent in Hawaii,” he wrote.

Extremely proud of her unlikely heritage, she feels personally compelled to over-explain every chance she gets. The character was based on a real-life, red-headed local who did just that.”

Aloha” is a romantic comedy-drama about a military contractor (Bradley Cooper) who returns to Hawaii to help negotiate the launch of a satellite. While there he reconnects with an old flame (Rachel McAdams) while falling for the young pilot (Stone) assigned to escort him around.

Lillian Nakano, civil rights activist and co-founder of Japanese American Redress and Reparations Movement dies

Rafu Shimpo: 

Lillian Reiko Nakano, a longtime civil rights activist and noted musician, died on Feb. 28 at Torrance Memorial Hospital. She was 86.

Born on April 30, 1928 in Honolulu to Saburo and Shizuno (nee Nakamura) Sugita, who were also born in Hawaii, she grew up in Honolulu and had three sisters, Julia, Grace and Elizabeth, and a brother, Robert.

After the Pearl Harbor attack, her father was immediately arrested by the FBI and detained at the federal detention center on Sand Island in Hawaii for a year. Nakano and the rest of her family were then sent to the internment camp in Jerome, Ark. in 1943 and were moved to the camp at Heart Mountain, Wyo. in 1944. They were released in 1945 and returned to Honolulu..

She married Bert Nakano, a fellow Hawaii native who was interned at Jerome and Tule Lake during the war, in 1949. Soon after, the couple and members of their families moved to Minneapolis/St. Paul in Minnesota and then Chicago. In 1957, they had a son, Erich, their only child. They moved to Japan briefly in 1964 and then settled in Gardena. Bert died in 2003 at the age of 75. Lillian lived with her son from the mid-2000s until her passing. Lillian Nakano co-founded NCRR with her husband Bert in the early 80s.

I worked with Lillian closely for many years, first in the Little Tokyo People’s Rights Organization on the issue of Little Tokyo redevelopment, then the redress movement through National Coalition for Redress and Reparations,” said Evelyn Yoshimura of the Little Tokyo Service Center. “She and her husband Bert were among the most active, most curious and open-minded Nisei I ever met. I watched her growing before my eyes as she began to assert herself and play a leadership role, weighing in on how to work with JACL, as well as always reminding us how important the grassroots community members were.”

Funeral service will be held on Saturday, March 14, at 5 p.m. at Gardena Buddhist Church, 1517 W. 166th St. (between Western and Normandie) in Gardena. A reception for guests will follow the service.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations to Nikkei for Civil Rights and Redress (formerly National Coalition for Redress and Reparations), as her involvement with NCRR, especially during the campaign for redress, was a cherished memory for her. Send donations to: NCRR, 231 E. Third St., G-104, Los Angeles, CA 90013.

Lillian Nakano reading NCRR's statement in support of the Muslim community at a candlelight vigil shortly after 9/11, when Muslims and those perceived as Muslims were targets of hate crimes, including murder.

Lillian Nakano reading NCRR’s statement in support of the Muslim community at a candlelight vigil shortly after 9/11, when Muslims and those perceived as Muslims were targets of hate crimes, including murder

Community Advocate

After working many different jobs in Chicago and then in Gardena and the South Bay, Nakano became active with LTPRO (Little Tokyo People’s Rights Organization) in the late 1970s, opposing the destruction of housing for redevelopment and advocating for greater community control.

In the early 1980s, she was a founding member along with her husband of NCRR, which consisted of the Los Angeles Community Coalition for Redress and Reparations and other community-based groups around the country. She was very active in the campaign to win redress for Japanese Americans who were deprived of their constitutional rights during World War II, urging Nisei her age to speak up about the camps and join the effort.

Her husband was the national spokesperson for NCRR for nine years and was active in other political campaigns, such as Jesse Jackson’s Rainbow Coalition. She was always active along with him, though more in the background. In 1988, legislation providing individual payments and an apology was finally signed into law, successfully ending this historic campaign.

“Lillian always had a smile,” recalled Mike Murase of Little Tokyo Service Center, who was also active in the redress movement. “She was always willing to talk to people, to persuade and motivate them to stand up for ​what was right, and to offer support to those who needed it. She was enthusiastic and conscientious. She liked people and wanted to change society to be better for common people.”

Lillian Nakano and June Hibino at an information table during a redress-related event in the 1980s.

Lillian Nakano and June Hibino at an information table during a redress-related event in the 1980s

Evelyn Yoshimura of LTSC commented, “I worked with Lillian closely for many years, first in the Little Tokyo People’s Rights Organization on the issue of Little Tokyo redevelopment, then the redress movement through National Coalition for Redress and Reparations. She and her husband Bert were among the most active, most curious and open-minded Nisei I ever met. I watched her growing before my eyes as she began to assert herself and play a leadership role, weighing in on how to work with JACL, as well as always reminding us how important the grassroots community members were.”

Longtime NCRR leader Kathy Masaoka remembered the 1981 hearings of the Commission on Wartime Relocation and Internment of Civilians, during which many former incarcerates spoke publicly about their experiences for the first time: “Lillian was a role model to many of us Sansei women who saw her speak up and be fearless. When the commissioners were not going to allow the Japanese speakers to read their testimonies, Lillian prompted Bert and others to assert their right to speak.”

Nakano expressed solidarity with Arab and Muslim Americans at a candlelight vigil in Little Tokyo on Sept. 28, 2001, just after the 9/11 attacks. Initiated by NCRR and co-sponsored by other community organizations, the vigil was attended by about 300 people and featured speakers from the Arab American Anti-Discrimination Committee, Muslim Public Affairs Council, and Council on American Islamic Relations.

“I feel so badly for the Middle Eastern peoples of all communities who are now the targets of this same kind of hatred and violence as a result of the tragic events,” Nakano said. “Sixty years ago, we heard very little from our government leaders and the general public to caution against this.”

Shamisen Master

Music was always another important part of her life. She began learning shamisen and other classical arts at age 8 in Hawaii. After her studies were interrupted by the camps, she resumed her studies and in 1955 received her master’s certificate (natori) and her professional name, Kineya Fukuju, from Master Kineya Shofuku. She taught shamisen and did some performances in Chicago, but didn’t do much teaching or performing when she moved to Gardena, where she focused her attention on raising her son and working.

After the redress victory, she began collaborating with her nephew, the late jazz pianist and composer Glenn Horiuchi (1955-2000). This allowed her to grow as an artist and provided an opportunity to continue the tradition of shamisen music in alternative formats.

In addition to being an activist, Lillian Nakano was a talented shamisen player.

In addition to being an activist, Lillian Nakano was a talented shamisen player

She was a guest soloist in the premieres of Horiuchi’s “Poston Sonata” and “Little Tokyo Suite.” This began a series of tours throughout the U.S., Mexico, Canada and beyond, including performances at the Earshot Jazz Festival in Seattle, the Western Front Jazz Festival in Vancouver, and the Berlin Jazz Festival.

Other performances included music for Purple Moon Dance Project’s “Floating Lanterns” in San Francisco in 1994, with Katada Kai in 1998, with Horiuchi and William Roper at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, and a Grand Performances Summer Concert in Downtown Los Angeles in 1998.

Nakano worked with the Children’s Theater Company of Minneapolis in 1998 with taiko master Kenny Endo; at the Skirball Cultural Center with composer/choreographer Nobuko Miyamoto; and as part of the Liz Lerman Dance Exchange’s “Hallelujah” performance in 2001. She also had numerous concerts with Tom Kurai of the Los Angeles Taiko Center.

“I performed many times with Lillian, who was a master nagauta shamisen artist, from about 1995 to 2007,” said Kurai. “We performed traditional nagauta, ensemble music for kabuki as well as contemporary music. Much of the contemporary music was written by Lillian’s nephew, the late Glenn Horiuchi. Along with her shamisen students in the Sanmi Ensemble, we collaborated with jazz musicians Francis Wong and William Roper. We performed at Japan America Theatre, Japanese American National Museum, John Anson Ford Amphitheater, UC Riverside, UC Santa Cruz and many other venues.

“Although Lillian was a master of shamisen, receiving her certified natori from Japan, being Japanese American, she was not afraid of improvising in order to broaden the music into a more contemporary setting. I learned so much about traditional music from Lillian as well as how to improvise my taiko playing. Lillian was comfortable with both worlds and could easily move between the old and new forms of music.

“Through my association with Lillian, I gained not only a firm foundation in music, but just knowing her as a friend, I learned more about humanity and the importance of social action. Lillian’s loss is not only a loss for the music community but a big loss for the entire Japanese American community as well.”

Nakano was the recipient of numerous grants to support her preservation of the shamisen art form from such institutions as the City of Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs and the California Arts Commission, and was honored with a Master Musician Fellowship by the Durfee Foundation in 2001.

Bay Area-based jazz pianist, composer and bandleader Jon Jang commented, “What is quite remarkable about Lillian Nakano is that she not only represents one of the major Asian American women revolutionary activists of the 20th century and beyond, along with Yuri Kochiyama and Grace Lee Boggs; Lillian also nurtured a younger generation of activists and infused them with the blood and the struggle of the music because Lillian was a master of the shamisen, a three-string Japanese lute, who was not allowed to perform the instrument at Jerome internment camp in a similar way black people were denied the use of drum during slavery.

“Some of these younger activists were her son Erich, who has been a longtime activist leader and played piano, as well as her late nephew Glenn Horiuchi, who was also an activist as well as a brilliant composer, pianist and shamisen performer.”

Nakano slowed her activity and retired from the late 1990s into the 2000s to help raise her two grandchildren. She later took great joy watching their basketball games and seeing them grow up.

“She was a dedicated and devoted mother and loving wife; she and Bert helped raise their grandchildren from the time they were born and supported them as they grew into young adults,” her family said in a statement. “She was an activist and fighter for civil rights and social justice. She was a friend, mentor and role model to many in the community.

“Although outwardly gentle, and one who did not seek the limelight, she had wellspring of strength and determination that enabled her to truly make a difference in the lives of family and friends around her, and the community.”

Murals take over Honolulu for POW! WOW! Hawaii 2015 street art festival

Retired sumo wrestler gets back mojo

web1_Sumo_2015_1.jpg

Sixty-nine-year-old Douglas Arruda, left, spars with a sumo wrestler from Japan at Waiakea Recreation Center

Twenty-four years after he retired from sumo wrestling, Douglas Arruda was back in the ring Sunday with some of Japan’s finest.

The 69-year-old Keaau resident put on his mawashi and stood in Hilo’s last sumo ring, or dohyo, where he sparred with a man much younger, and perhaps a bit larger, than himself.

But, as he learned early, size doesn’t always matter, even in sumo wrestling, which he demonstrated by tossing his opponent to the ground. Arruda would admit, though, that the wrestler from Niitaidai University in Tokyo was going a bit easy on him.

Maybe that big guy I pushed, he was playing with me,” he said.

He was going easier. He knows I’m old.”

Arruda, who grew up in a family of sumo wrestlers during a time when the sport was much popular in Hawaii, still couldn’t help but smile after wrestling for the first time since 1991. He traveled to Japan several times in the 1970s and ’80s to compete with his brothers and father, who had made a name for themselves in the sport.

It feels good,” he said with a chuckle.

I think I can do it (again). But I got to practice.”

Arruda’s sparring partner was one of nine wrestlers from Niitaidai, the reigning champions at the college level, who put on a demonstration at Hilo’s Waiakea Recreation Center before dozens of Big Island residents.

The wrestlers, some large and some small, each showed their athleticism through warm-up routines and short clashes in the ring.

The dohyo was once one of three in Hilo back in the peak of sumo wrestling here a few decades ago.

Arruda said people lost interest over time, possibly due to tournaments being held only once a year, while practicing can be a daily event.

I’m all for it,” he said, “to bring it back here.”

But that has to start with the kids, Arruda said.

Now we got to get the children involved,” he said. “Then we can bring the sport back.

As far as Sunday’s event, the wrestlers appeared to be the biggest hit with the keiki, who, while lacking size, showed plenty of determination in trying to push the athletes across the ring.

Chinese wealth transforms South Korea’s Jeju Island

Wall Street Journal/NY Times:

When Kim Ho-san opened an apparel store on South Korea’s southernmost resort island of Jeju in 2012, she was well-positioned to benefit from a rising flow of Chinese tourists.

Six months later, the 36-year-old was asked by her landlord to leave. As visitors from China drove up sales, the property owner told her he wanted to run his own shop on the site to cash in, she says.

Since then, the number of Chinese visitors to Jeju has soared, bringing wealth and jobs but also generating tension among locals, as well as some resentment toward the tourists. Locals say scuffles occasionally break out between Koreans and Chinese visitors in shops and bars.

A surge in property investment from China is also reshaping the local economy and juicing land prices. Condominiums, hotels and casinos are springing up around the island—a development welcomed by local officials eager to boost the sleepy island economy but opposed by some residents and businesses. One Korean-run hotel has erected a banner to deny rumors that it had been bought by Chinese after it was boycotted by some locals.

A map from Kim Tae-il, a professor at Jeju National University, based on data from the Jeju government, shows land owned by Chinese developers or individuals in Jeju.
A map from Kim Tae-il, a professor at Jeju National University, based on data from the Jeju government, shows land owned by Chinese developers or individuals in Jeju.

Land owned by Chinese individuals and developers on Jeju, known for its white beaches, volcanic landscape and clean air, more than doubled last year. One catalyst is South Korea’s offer of permanent-resident status for big foreign investors on Jeju, allowing them the same medical, education and employment benefits as South Koreans.

Kim Tae-il, a professor at Jeju National University, likens it to a real-estate frenzy in Hawaii in the late 1970s among Japanese investors who bought skyscrapers, condos and other property as the yen surged against the dollar.

The Chinese have come to town and have started buying without worrying about price—just like the Japanese did in Hawaii,” he said.

Reflecting rising incomes and eased travel restrictions, the Chinese were the world’s largest group of outbound travelers last year, taking more than 100 million trips outside the mainland. Research firm CLSA expects that figure to double by 2020, an attractive potential economic boost for countries that can lure in Chinese travelers.

South Korea has been particularly welcoming for Chinese visitors to Jeju, exempting them from visas needed to visit other parts of the country. The popularity of South Korean pop music and TV dramas in China and a gradual appreciation of the Chinese currency has also helped draw visitors. So has geography: Jeju is a one-hour flight from Shanghai and 2½ hours from Beijing. “The major reason for most people to travel to Jeju is that it’s visa-free. And the price for group travel is so cheap,” said Willa Wu, a Hangzhou, China, businesswoman who has traveled to Jeju several times.

The number of Chinese visitors to Jeju jumped 58% to 2.9 million people last year, almost a half of a record 6.1 million Chinese tourists to South Korea in 2014. In another move to jump start the local economy, authorities eased investment rules in February 2010, giving permanent residency to foreigners who purchase property worth at least 500 million won ($450,450) in designated districts and who keep them for five years.

Until tourism transformed Jeju, it was a sleepy island dedicated mainly to farming and fishing. So many men left the island for better jobs that the predominance of women was one of the three things the island was most known for. The other two were wind and volcanic rocks.

As South Korea’s economy exploded, the island became a favorite destination not only of South Korean honeymooners, but also for school trips. (Most of the 304 people killed in a ferry accident last April were students headed to Jeju.)

For a time in the last several years, Jeju was especially welcoming to the Chinese, whom officials thought could help vault the island from a regional destination to an international one.

Although South Koreans have long ensured that Chinatowns did not form in their cities, Jeju became the first province to give one of its busiest shopping districts a Chinese name. Baojian Street was named after a Chinese health care product company that brought 11,000 employees to Jeju on incentive tours in 2011.

Lisa Xue, 60, a Chinese tourist on a recent visit, said she and others were attracted to the island by its proximity — just a two-hour flight from Beijing — while wealthy Chinese saw it as a good place to buy property.

But in the last year or so, local news media and critics began accusing Chinese real estate investors of “encroaching upon” Korean land. They also complained that most of the Chinese tourists were brought to Jeju by Chinese tourist agencies and not only violated some social mores, but often stayed, ate and shopped in Chinese-controlled hotels, restaurants and shopping centers.

In a survey of 1,000 islanders last year, 68 percent said the growing number of Chinese tourists did not help Jeju’s development.

The Japanese-Peruvians interned in the US during WW2

Photograph of Blanca Katsura in 2014Blanca Katsura and her family were among 1,800 Japanese-Peruvians to be interned in the US 

BBC News (by Jaime Gonzalez of BBC Mundo):

Blanca Katsura will never forget the night of 6 January 1943. She was 12 at the time and living with her parents and two siblings in northern Peru. On that night, two officials came to their home and took away her father. Mr Katsura, who owned a small general store, was arrested because he was part of Peru’s prosperous Japanese community.

My father told them he hadn’t done anything wrong, but they didn’t listen to him,” she recalls.

Japanese people began migrating to Peru in considerable numbers at the end of the 19th Century, drawn by opportunities to work in the mines and on sugar plantations.

By the 1940s, an estimated 25,000 people of Japanese descent lived in Peru. Many had become lawyers and doctors, or owned small businesses.

An undated photo of a  relative of Art Shibayama in his shop in PeruMany Japanese-Peruvians did well in their new homelands and set up successful businesses 

Their prosperity, further fuelled by racism, soon triggered anti-Japanese sentiment in Peru, Stephanie Moore explains.

Ms Moore, a scholar at the Japanese Peruvian Oral History Project, says after the outbreak of World War Two, the Japanese community in Peru became a target, and their assets were confiscated.

In May 1940, as many as 600 houses, schools and businesses belonging to citizens of Japanese descent were burned down,” she says.

Following Japan’s 1941 attack on the US naval base at Pearl Harbor in Hawaii, the US government asked a dozen Latin American countries, among them Peru, to arrest its Japanese residents. Records from the time suggest the US authorities wanted to take them to the US and use them as bargaining chips for its nationals captured by Japanese forces in Asia.

Italian, German and Japanese residents of Latin America are seen leaving a temporary internment camp in the Panama Canal Zone Many Japanese-Latin Americans were taken to a camp in the Panama Canal Zone first

Mr Katsura was among the 2,200 Latin Americans of Japanese descent who were forcibly deported to internment camps in the US. Blanca Katsura, who is now 83 and lives in Northern California, remembers how she learned of his fate.

A month after my father was detained, he sent me a letter because it was my birthday,” she recalls. “He had been taken to Panama from where they were planning to send him to the US,” she adds.

Six months later, Blanca Katsura’s mother decided to take her three small children to the US to search for her husband.

When we arrived in New Orleans after a month-long trip, they confiscated our passports and then sent us by train to the Crystal City camp.”

As many as 4,000 people were interned during World War Two in this camp in Texas run by the US Immigration and Naturalization Service. Most of the detainees were of Japanese descent, although some German and Italian immigrants were also held there.

Undated aerial view of Crystal City Internment Camp, TexasCrystal City Internment Camp was located 180 km (110 miles) south of San Antonio in Texas

It was at Crystal City that Blanca Katsura was reunited with her father. “I was shocked, he had lost so much weight,” she remembers.

For the next four years, her family lived in the barracks at the camp. Her memories of that time are not particularly traumatic, she says.

Being a child at the time time, I had no worries and made lots of friends.We were able to go to school and learn Japanese,” she adds.

Japanese-Peruvians attend a class at the Federal High School in the Crystal City Internment Camp in Texas in 1944Children in Crystal City attended classes inside the camp
Ms Katsura says she later learned that the camp authorities were keen for the children to learn Japanese so they would be able to speak the language once they were deported to Japan.
Chieko Kamisato Chieko Kamisato now lives in Los Angeles
Chieko Kamisato’s memories of life at Crystal City are less positive.

You could call it a concentration camp, because we were surrounded by barbed wire fences and guards with guns,” she says.

We couldn’t go out at all, although we were free to move around inside,” she recalls.

My parents were really bitter about the situation because they were forced to come to the US. They had no choice,” she says.

Ms Kamisato’s father had moved to Peru from Japan in 1915 and had worked hard to open a bakery in the capital, Lima. Now 81, she lives in Los Angeles.

Of the 2,200 Latin Americans of Japanese descent to be interned in the US, 800 were sent to Japan as part of prisoner exchanges. After World War Two ended, another 1,000 were deported to Japan after their Latin American home countries refused to take them back.

A group of children poses for a photo in Crystal City Camp in this undated photoWhile there were also Germans interned in Crystal City, the majority were of Japanese descent

Ms Katsura’s and Ms Kamisato’s families successfully fought deportation and were eventually allowed to remain in the US. In 1988, then-President Ronald Reagan signed the Civil Liberties Act and apologized on behalf of the US government for the internment of Japanese-Americans. Under the act, the government paid tens of thousands of survivors of the camps $20,000 (£13,000) each in reparation.

But Japanese-Latin Americans did not qualify for the payments because they had not been US citizens or permanent residents of the US at the time of their internment. Outraged, they filed a class-action suit and 10 years later, the US government agreed to pay them $5,000 each. Most accepted, but a small group headed by camp survivor Art Shibayama decided to hold out, demanding to be paid the same as Japanese-Americans.

Blanca Katsura says that even though her childhood at the camp may not have been traumatic, no amount of money can compensate her family for its loss.

My parents wanted to go back to Peru but couldn’t. They missed the life they had there,” she recalls.

The Peruvian government sold us out to the US government and that is not a very nice feeling. How would you feel about it?